Text: Matthew 26:57-75 and Matthew 27:1-10
Event(s): Jesus faces the Sanhedrin; Peter denies Jesus; Jesus handed over to Pontius Pilate; Judas hangs himself
Matthew 26:57 “where the scribes and the elders were assembled” The Sadducees held the power in Israel then. The “scribes” were the official teachers of the law, and the “elders” were the lay representatives of the people. The “chief priests,” mainly Sadducees, were also present as we see in verse 59. These were the three groups that composed Israel’s chief ruling body. All in all, they violated their own laws (again) by holding a trial at night.
Matthew 26:59-60 “sought false testimony against Jesus…but found none” As we’ve discussed earlier, in any trial in which the death penalty was being issued, the Mosaic Law required that at the very least two witnesses be present (Numbers 35:30, Deuteronomy 17:6 and Deuteronomy 19:15). The lawyers had to interview several people before they finally found two of them that would agree on a charge against Jesus (and then even yet, it was quite shady).
Matthew 26:61 “This fellow said…” The two “witnesses” distorted the truth of Jesus’ teaching when He was speaking about His resurrection. Jesus had never said that “He” would destroy the temple. He said that it would be destroyed. Either way, as it is with anything deceptive, distortion is a trademark.
Matthew 26:63 “But Jesus kept silent” Isaiah had prophesied that this would be a quality of Jesus’ character. “He was led as a lamp to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7) This is a sign of Jesus’ complete submission.
Matthew 26:74 “he began to curse and swear…” Each denial escalated, becoming more emphatic than the last. It is the same with us when we ignore the conviction of God in our hearts. One little step, one small decision, one “little” lie and things just keep getting worse and worse.
Matthew 27:2 “delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor” Though they had their own legal system and method of doing things, the Jewish people were under Roman Law. And in A.D. 30, just two years prior to these events taking place, the Romans had taken away the Jewish right of capital punishment. The reason for taking Him to Pilate is because Pilate was the only one who could issue a death penalty.
Matthew 27:3 “Then Judas…was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver…” Remorse is very different from repentance. Both Peter and Judas had betrayed Jesus. But Peter repented and was later restored. Remorse is being sorry that we got caught, or that things didn’t turn out the way we thought they would. It usually results from feeling the pain of our consequences, but remorse alone doesn’t address the root problem.
Repentance is also feeling the pain of our consequences, but being sorry enough to stop what we are doing and change our behavior. Judas knew Jesus was innocent. He knew what he had done was wrong. And I wholeheartedly believe that had he truly turned to Jesus and repented, He would have been restored. But instead, he went right back to the religious leaders; to those with whom he had devised this deceptive plan to begin with, and ultimately, this lead to death. We can’t expect our alliances with the world to produce the righteousness of God.
“For [godly] sorrow that is in accord with the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but worldly sorrow [the hopeless sorrow of those who do not believe] produces death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10 AMP
Today’s Takeaway: I really felt led today to share a little bit on the issue of remorse vs repentance because in my personal walk it has really helped to know the difference. Not just for the sake of our own hearts, and abiding in intimacy with God, but it’s also helpful as we navigate our relationships.
Many times, people keep getting hurt time after time after time because they keep allowing the same level of access to a person who has repeatedly betrayed or hurt them. It goes something like this: The betrayal or hurt happens, and it gets exposed. There’s an emotional exchange. The person says they’re sorry. There may even be tears. But if it’s only remorse they feel, (based on feeling the pain for the consequences of their actions – not genuine repentance) it’s not going to be long before trust is broken once again.
Genuine repentance, on the other hand, is rooted more in the fear of God. It sounds more like, “Not only have I hurt you – but I recognize that I’ve done something that also has the potential to break intimacy with me and God. I can’t keep on like this, I’m genuinely sorry for my actions. Please forgive me. I have to change and I will change, by God’s grace.” Repentance is a transformation in the heart, not just an emotional response.
When some of the religious people came to John the Baptist to be baptized, he knew their hearts. He knew they were just going through outward motions and not being changed on the inside. And so he told them they needed to “bear fruits worthy of repentance.” (Matthew 3:8) I love how the Amplified Bible puts it: “So produce fruit that is consistent with repentance [demonstrating new behavior that proves a change of heart, and a conscious decision to turn away from sin];”
This is also all very different than guilt that often experience when we’re the ones who have wronged another. But guilt focuses on how bad we were and leads to shame. But godly sorry that leads to repentance draws us further into relationship with God. It turns our focus towards Him. I love what Dr. Henry Cloud says,
“The next time you miss the mark, search your emotional response. If it centers on how bad you are, your emotions are “worldly sorrow”—or guilt. But if your response centers on loving your neighbor as yourself, it is likely to be “Godly sorrow”—or repentance.“
These principles are the same for both our own walk as well as in our relationships with others. I want to make it clear that we are always instructed to forgive, for that has more to do with the condition of our hearts than with others. But knowing the difference between remorse and repentance can also help us help those we love seek true life transformation that only comes from knowing Jesus.
Additional (optional) reading: The parallel accounts of these events can be found in: Mark 14:53-54; 14:66-72 and 15:1 Luke 22:54-62 and 23:1 as well as John 18:15-27